Monday, April 08, 2002

Pro-Israel rally draws hundreds
to Blue Ash

By Randy Tucker
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        BLUE ASH — As Israeli troops continued to exchange fire with Palestinian gunmen in the Middle East, Tristate activists on both sides exchanged barbs Sunday in Blue Ash at a pro-Israel rally.

        More than 1,000 people — including U.S. Rep. Steve Chabot, R-Ohio- attended the rally at the Town Square Band Shell in Blue Ash. It was organized by the Jewish Federation of Cincinnati.

        The gathering was mostly peaceful, but tensions were high and led to some blunt exchanges between the largely pro-Israeli crowd and a pro-Palestinian contingent of about 100 people.

        “Why don't you go home?” a Jewish woman shouted at the pro-Palestinian group, which was chanting “Israelis go home. Your occupation has to go.”

        Blue Ash police broke up several arguments, and checked book bags and backpacks.

        There were no arrests, police said.

        “At this painful moment in history, it is clear to all that terrorism is the enemy,” said Rabbi Michael Zedek, CEO of the Jewish Federation. “It is vital that all people of good will join in solidarity with our friends in Israel.”

        Mr. Chabot, of Cincinnati, is vice chairman of the House International Relations Committee's Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia.

        “Am I optimistic about the peace process?” Mr. Chabot asked the crowd. “Yes and no. Peace will never come until the terrorist infrastructure is eliminated.”

        “I am here to support peace and equality for everyone and to show my dislike for anyone who would use murder as a weapon,” said Harvey Bergman, 76, of Blue Ash.

        But Cathy Moss, 39, of Price Hill, who was carrying a“pro-Palestinian” sign, said the rally was one-sided.

        “Somebody needs to be here to represent the Palestinian side,” Ms. Moss said.


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